As the first harvest of the year in Brazil takes place in January/February and delivery of cargoes in the northern hemisphere in Spring, Standard has cooperated with CWA to establish best practices relating to the carriage of soya bean cargo. The practices contain advice on how to ship this cargo in the most efficient way to limit the risk of cargo claims.

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Soya beans are liable to self-heat during long storage and transport periods due to their high oil content, as the natural breakdown of the oil over time generates heat. A small increase in temperature will not usually have an effect on the cargo quality, but soya bean’s high moisture content and its storage near external heat sources can increase the rate of this process. Over time this could lead to cargo temperatures of up to 90°C.

The interaction between the moisture content and temperature of a soya bean cargo will also affect influence whether mould can grow. The growth of mould will negatively impact the cargo physically and increase the temperature of the affected cargo. At the same time it will heat other beans that may be nearby.

What is more, Standard Club notes that the main signs of damage related to soya bean cargo claims include discolouration of the beans, malodour and mould growth. While some cargo damage may be seen, many times the crew will not be able to fully determine the quality or condition of the soya beans. In such cases, only laboratory analysis of representative samples can provide an accurate overview of cargo quality and condition.

However, there are some steps that can be taken before, during or after the transportation of soya bean cargoes to prevent or minimise claims activity. These include, among others:

Preloading

  • The holds should be prepared to ‘grain clean’ standard before loading;
  • The weather-tightness of the hatch covers should be checked by ultrasonic test equipment;
  • The usual checks for water-sensitive cargoes should be carried out. These may include checking cargo hold ventilator ducts, access hatches, manhole covers, air and sounding pipes.

During loading

  • The crew/surveyor should take date & time stamped high-quality, colour photographs of how the cargo is delivered and loaded;
  • Ensure the loading sequence is recorded in all circumstances;
  • A protest should be issued by the master if any damaged cargo is presented for loading and reject visibly mouldy or darkened cargo.

Ventilation of cargo

  • Ventilation will not stop a cargo of soya beans from heating, but it will assist in reducing the risk of condensation (ship’s sweat);
  • Ventilation should be conducted in accordance with sound maritime practice and/or fumigation instructions and/or voyage instructions;
  • The decision to ventilate should be based on either the ‘Three Degree Rule’ or ‘Dew Point Rule’ when the weather/sea conditions permit.

Delays

  • If the holds are sealed, all parties should be informed that the holds may require unsealing during prolonged delays in order to provide more efficient ventilation or permit regular cargo condition inspection;
  • The condition of the cargo surface should be visually inspected on a regular basis to check for signs of ship’s sweat or cargo damage;
  • Cargo subsurface temperatures should be measured using a calibrated temperature probe to assist in assessing whether the cargo is heating.

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